LoRaWAN® 101: All You Need To Know

Over the years, IoT technology continuously evolves and improves –– innovations are introduced and new solutions are developed by different companies. LoRa®, which stands for Long Range, is one of the fastest-growing wireless modulation techniques used by innovative companies. It is based on patented and proprietary spread spectrum RF modulation developed by the company called Cycleo, which was acquired by Semtech Corporation.

LoRa is the RF modulation used by LoRaWAN®, a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technology, which uses license-free radio frequencies designed for long-range and long power applications. The LoRaWAN protocol and its standards are maintained by LoRa Alliance to ensure interoperability between devices and networks. These devices should work smoothly in different regions across the globe if standards are met. LoRaWAN’s long-range and low power features are being utilized on different applications like smart city, asset tracking, modern agriculture, and even on a smart wireless mousetrap.

LoRaWAN Network

LoRaWAN is a star topology IoT network that consists of end devices and gateways. End devices come in different forms like sensors, trackers, and wireless monitoring nodes. While gateways on the other hand collect data from the end-devices and transmit it to the network and application server. Gateways are also capable of sending commands to end devices on certain applications. There are public LoRaWAN networks where you can connect your devices and you can also set up a private network where you have your own gateways and LoRaWAN server.

RAK811 Breakout Board to The Things Network (TTN)

To complete a LoRaWAN-based IoT solution, you need an end-device, gateway, LoRaWAN server, and integrated user application. All these components need to be configured properly to work together seamlessly. In RAKwireless, we design and manufacture both end devices and gateways. We are one of the leading LoRaWAN gateway vendors, providing a complete set of LoRaWAN end devices from modules and products used by many engineers and developers worldwide.

The LoRaWAN Standard

LoRa Alliance is the non-profit organization that maintains the LoRaWAN standard. All the components of LoRaWAN, from end-devices, gateways, and network servers, must adhere to this standard to ensure interoperability, security, and scalability. Each region has its frequency plan so that gateways and devices in that location can work together. The LoRaWAN frequency plan dictates the parameters that should be used on a specific country like the frequencies, channel bandwidth, data rate, etc.

MAC Options
Class A
Class B
Class C
LoRa Modulation
Regional ISM Band
EU 433
CN 470
EU 868
US 915

If these standard parameters are not satisfied, end-devices and gateways will not be able to communicate to one another which will make the IoT solution unusable. RAKwireless is a proud member of LoRa Alliance® and closely collaborates with other members. RAKwireless gateways and end-devices support LoRaWAN standards and are being used on different LoRaWAN applications by various companies to enable large-scale IoT deployments.

LoRaWAN Strong Points and its Limitations

LoRaWAN is suitable for long-range applications. End devices and gateways can communicate at a large distance which is multiple kilometers long. It is also applicable to low-power devices primarily powered by batteries. With data transmission intervals set to few minutes, the battery-powered LoRaWAN end-device can work for many years without the need for recharging.

LoRaWAN does not fit all use cases though. If your application requires you to transmit data every second or if you need to transmit a large chunk of data like photos, video, and audio, LoRaWAN is not the technology compatible for that. It is best to fit for transmissions of byte-sized telemetric data like temperature readings and GPS coordinates whose data payload is only a few bytes. Also, LoRaWAN is not applicable on frequently controlled devices. It is primarily designed to ensure that end devices can transmit sensor data to the servers most of the time.

LoRaWAN End-devices, Gateways, and Servers

RAKwireless gateways have a built-in network server that can be used to connect end devices. It can also be connected to other public, private and community LoRaWAN Network Server depending on the customer.

Aside from the gateways, RAKwireless offers end-devices that apply to almost all regional frequency plans. If all these components work together and with the data sent successfully to the user’s specific applications, this is now a complete LoRaWAN IoT application.

Read more: Everything You Need to Know about LoRaWAN®